Making a Facebook Fan Page for Sobeys

Over the last few weeks I've been experimenting with content, layout, tweaks, images, formatting, HTML and FBML, import settings, feed settings and everything in between in an effort to craft a decent and sustainable Facebook fan page for Sobeys.

I say sustainable, because we need the content that we put up to be both interesting to our fans/readers/customers, but also be easy enough for our marketing team to deploy. Widely available customer research in our industry says that people like short and sweet tips, interesting editorial content, delicious recipes, and time/money-saving how-to's. This is the perfect list for a medium like Facebook, because it allows easy uploads with the Publisher tool (that bar at the top of your page where you post a status or add a link or photo) as well as other functionality like feeds and custom content with FBML (Facebook's version of HTML).

To my friends, contacts and colleagues:

Have a look at the page. Is it what you were expecting as far as content? What would you add or format differently? Is this the type of content you expect to see from your grocery store? This isn't the website don't forget-- this is the place where you can engage with Sobeys, ask questions, make suggestions, share your own stories, etc.  The more feedback I can get early on, the better I can make the page as we grow. Thanks for your input. Email me your feedback or if we're friends just send me a message.

We're really trying to create a different channel for the business here, something that promotes inbound relationship growth, and ultimately brand loyalty.  

The nerdy part of the post:

Did you know: that if you make your profile picture 200px wide, you can make it taller than that without affecting the aspect-ratio of the thumbnail? I didn't. It took some experimenting and checking out some other pages before I figured out how to perfectly center our logo in the thumbnail while still including some great food photography in the profile pic. Go with 200x400 or 200x600 (max)

One of the big hassles I've discovered is the way the publisher tool scrapes a 3rd party site when you link it in the news feed. If the external site isn't formatted properly (or to FB's liking) it will not be able to grab a thumbnail or the title properly. Recently, Facebook made a slight change where the person publishing can actually just click on the text, prior to publishing, and make an edit. Once it's published to the feed though, it's permanent.

On a fan page, I also figured out that if you use a Static FBML application to deploy some text or HTML into a 'tab' or 'box'-- if you delete the box (say you decide against using it) but then try to add another one, your deleted content will return. It's actually easier to just EDIT the box and put your new content in, or even just 'comment'-out the code you don't want now, since you may want it later. These pages are all indexed by search, I recommend not simply embedding some flash or putting a single graphic link. Think about these as an extension of your site.

One thing that I think Facebook has done really well (for brands anyway) is SMS integration with pages. If you don't have a mobile program in place yet, you can have people txt 'fan Sobeys' to FBOOK (32665) to become instant fans of the page. (Assuming that they have their mobile connected to FB already. Most people do.)
This is a really simple way to get some added traction from offline sources. As a grocery store, we could put that on a receipt tape or a POS screen saver.

I think the part that makes me the happiest is that our legal eagles snagged all of our trademarks during the Facebook Username Landrush, as so even though we don't have 100 fans of our page, we get to start off on the right 'brand-building' foot and direct people right to It's just a nice bonus. Speaking of usernames, we're also lucky enough to have secured @Sobeys on Twitter, as well as Sobeys as our username on photo-sharing site Flickr and the same on Youtube. (Special thanks to Todd Williams)

If I had to give some advice to anyone setting up a Facebook fan page, it's this: Once it's built-- how are you going to get people to GO and how are you going to get them to COME BACK and how are you going to get them to TELL THEIR FRIENDS. Those are the things that I've been spending most of my time on. Building a page is pretty simple, but getting customer to visit, and then getting them to come back, and getting them to share with their socialgraph-- that's the key. More on this in another post.